Who do you think deserves to progress through to the next round? It's Jordan Pickford v Simon Mignolet - VOTE NOW!— Roker Report (@RokerReport) June 17, 2019
Jordan Pickford - “One of our own!”
APPS: 35 (2016-2017)
W-D-L RATIO: 7-5-23 (27% success rate)
PL CLEAN SHEETS: 4
Whilst Sunderland fans feel a natural affection and warmth towards Jordan because of his journey in football and the fact we very much feel part of it, it’s important we only reflect upon what he did when he was our player when attempting to judge whether he deserves to progress in this contest.
The Washington-born stopper played on 35 occasions for Sunderland’s first team and sky-rocketed onto the scene as one of the most impressive young prospects in world football. He was Gareth Southgate’s first choice for the England U21s side and became our number one during our relegation season under the stewardship of David Moyes, where Pickford was one of very few shining lights to emerge from that ill-fated campaign.
Pickford’s performances were often heroic and he displayed a range of skill and precision rarely seen at this football club from a goalkeeper. Jordan could quite literally do it all, and the most impressive trick in his arsenal was his ability to distribute the ball with precision.
It’s no surprise to anyone that he’s managed to achieve so much since leaving Sunderland, and at the age of 25 there’s no doubting he’ll go on to do even more, not only at club level but in representing his country for a number of years on the world stage.
Simon Mignolet - “Our Belgian Keeper!”
APPS: 101 (2010-2013)
W-D-L RATIO: 28-32-41 (44% success rate)
PL CLEAN SHEETS: 30
As with Pickford we have to discount what Mignolet has gone on to do since leaving Sunderland when judging his suitability in this competition - during his time on Wearside, Simon Mignolet was an absolute colossus between the sticks and, in my opinion, dragged Sunderland across the line during the 2012-13 season as we just staved off relegation.
His performances right across that season were immense, so good in fact that Liverpool spent a large amount of money for a goalkeeper at the time - believed to be around £11m - in order to nab the Belgian international from us when his stock was at its highest.
Mignolet played every single game for Sunderland during the 12/13 season. He kept 11 clean sheets (incredible when you consider that we stayed up by the skin of our teeth), had one of the highest save percentages and made the second highest amount of saves of any goalkeeper in the league.
In the season prior he fought off competition from regular number one Craig Gordon and the recently-signed Keiren Westwood to become Sunderland’s first choice, a position he only surrendered when he eventually departed the club to join up with Brendan Rodgers at Anfield.
For me, Mignolet will always be remembered fondly because of what he did at our club and whilst his Liverpool stint mightn’t have been as convincing, he’s now entering his sixth season with the Champions League winners and has had a fantastic career - proof perhaps that Sunderland’s gamble in signing what was, at the time, an unheard of young talent from an inferior league was a smart one.